Origins of a Zuni Tribal Museum
These personal narratives provide insight into the diversity of perspectives found within the community, as well as tracing the ongoing negotiation of the relationship between Zuni and Anglo-American cultures. In particular, Isaac examines how Zunis, who transmit knowledge about their history through oral tradition and initiation into religious societies, must navigate the challenge of utilizing Anglo-American museum practices, which privilege technology that aids the circulation of knowledge beyond its original narrators.
This book provides a much-needed contemporary ethnography of a Pueblo community recognized for its restrictive approach to outside observers. The complex interactions between Zunis and anthropologists explored here, however, reveal not only Puebloan but also Anglo-American attitudes toward secrecy and the control of knowledge.
"Isaac is a gifted writer. Her analysis is historically grounded, theoretically sophisticated, and subtly tuned to the intricate cultural dynamics at Zuni."—Wicazo Sa Review
"This study offers important insights for oral historians as well as for ethnographers, public historians, and anyone interested in complex philosophical issues of just who can be said to 'own' knowledge."—Oral History Review
"Isaac's account of this unique institution raises important questions about knowledge and power that are at the center of colonialism, Native American history, and public history."—American Studies
"The book is certain to set standards in anthropology and museum studies for many years to come."—Journal of Folklore Research
"A well-researched and readable account of the museum’s struggles to find its identity. . . . Isaac’s discussion of the difficulties of mediation is as rich as her exploration of epistemology."—American Ethnologist
"A rich, dense, and often evocative book . . . [that] casts light both on Zuni and Anglo-American concepts of knowledge. It is heartily recommended."—Journal of Museum Ethnography